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Boise’s Carnegie Library gets new owner, purpose

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Future in Focus Downtown - Mutual of America

The Carnegie Library on Washington St. is one of Boise’s oldest – and grandest – building. Now, after an abandoned plan for an artists’ center – a new owner stepped in to buy the 114-year-old building.

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Shawn Swanby, founder of Boise firm Ednetics, purchased the building from St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral. Ednetics will set up shop in a portion of the building to house operations for its Western US business.

A new life for an old building

The rest of the 17,500 square foot building could see a new use.

[Historic Boise library won’t be artists’ home after all]

“We have an opportunity to reinterpret the purpose of this building,” Sarah Swanby said. “The Columbian Club of Boise knew what the library would mean for the community when they secured the library grant from Andrew Carnegie. We want to honor that contribution by reestablishing a community aspect to the property.”

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[How to solve the local new crisis? Look it up in the library]

Famed local architects Charles Tourtellotte and John Hummel designed the building using sandstone from the Table Rock quarry. Primary funding came from Andrew Carnegie, who donated to 2,500 libraries around the world including 1,700 the United States. It served as Boise’s main library until 1972 when workers moved the books to the current site on Capitol Blvd.

The Swanbys said they will work with Hummel Architects to work on renovations of the building the firm first designed.

The library property also could soon be part of an urban renewal area as part of a proposal under consideration at the Capital City Development Corporation.

Business and building synergy

Ednetics provides technology solutions to schools, libraries and governments.

“There is an obvious synergy between the original plan for this building – for it to be a place for learning, connection and community – and the purpose of Ednetics,” Shawn Swanby said. “We’re energized by the opportunity to faithfully reimagine this historic space to empower innovation in education and government.”

Ednetics is based in Post Falls, and operates offices in Boise, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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